Drunk driving is against the law everywhere in the United States. Those convicted of driving under the influence typically must pay serious fines, potentially serve jail time, and almost always lose their driving privileges for at least six months.
However, driving under the influence also affects how fault is assigned in accidents across New Mexico and throughout the country. If a driver is under the influence and causes an accident, he or she may also be held financially responsible for any resulting damages or injuries.
But how does DUI affect accident fault in New Mexico? Read on to learn more, or contact an Albuquerque-area accident attorney if you've been involved in a wreck with an inebriated driver.
Accident fault shouldn't be assigned automatically if a driver is impaired by drugs or alcohol. Other factors may be at play than simply the driver's intoxication that led to the crash.
It is the burden of the person seeking compensation for damages or injuries sustained in an accident caused by a drunk driver to prove that the motorist was at fault. There are three elements of fault in the law:
Some states' "negligence per se" legislation completely changes the dynamic. In these jurisdictions, evidence of a driver's violation of DUI rules establishes both a duty of care and a breach. As a result, in jurisdictions with carelessness per se statutes, the injured party need only prove that the defendant was driving under the influence and that the DUI was the cause of the accident.
Drivers are likely to face harsher consequences when they cause an accident while under the influence.
For instance, when an accident caused by DUI results in injuries, many states impose harsher penalties. That is to say, the stakes are higher in terms of punishment (i.e., possible imprisonment, monetary fines, and loss of driving privileges).
Still, when deciding on a punishment, prosecutors and judges consider both the case's aggravating and mitigating circumstances. In most cases, the simple facts of an accident can work against you when negotiating a plea bargain or asking the judge for a more lenient sentence.
Alcohol is a factor in nearly half of all fatal car accidents in the United States. One drink is enough to impair driving abilities.
An alcoholic drink is defined as 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor (one shot glass) neat or with a mixer, 12 ounces of beer (standard size can, bottle, or glass), or 5 ounces of wine. Keep in mind that consuming a few specialty or mixed drinks could be the same as drinking several regular alcoholic beverages.
One of these drinks is eliminated from your system every hour, and there is no surefire method of rapidly becoming sober. Nothing works, not even ice-cold showers, vigorous exercise, or lots of fresh air. That is to say, no amount of alcohol in the system while driving is acceptable.
New Mexico levies severe penalties for driving while intoxicated, including jail time and hefty fines for first-time offenders. In addition to having your license taken away, you'll have to get treatment and put an ignition interlock device on your car. Penalties, including jail time and license suspension, increase with each subsequent conviction. Your driving record in New Mexico will show a DUI conviction for the next 55 years.
Furthermore, if you are arrested for driving while intoxicated, and your breath test is at or over the legal limit, or you refuse to take the test, your license will be taken away from you immediately. The officer will take your license and report you to the Motor Vehicle Division, where it will be suspended for up to a year.
If a police officer takes away your driver's license, you have twenty days to appeal the decision before it is permanently revoked. Within ten days of your arrest, you must ask for a hearing to challenge the revocation.
When driving in the Land of Enchantment, the law assumes that you agree to a chemical test of your breath or blood (known as Implied Consent). Keep in mind, too, that this rule only kicks in if the police officer has reasonable suspicion that the driver is impaired by drugs or alcohol in New Mexico.
What's more, reporting a car crash to the police is also mandatory in New Mexico, regardless of whether or not an intoxicated driver was involved. New Mexico law mandates that motorists report accidents to authorities as soon as possible.
In addition, you'll need this evidence if you want to pursue a claim for personal injury. A police report might also help you negotiate with your insurance company.
As private businesses, New Mexico's auto insurers are free to decline coverage if you've been convicted of driving under the influence. Even if all drivers in the state are required to have auto insurance, it is still within these companies' legal right to deny insurance after a motorist is charged with driving under the influence.
Those auto insurance companies that do cover drivers with DUIs often come with exorbitant rates. Needless to say, you are considered a dangerous motorist if you have a DUI on your record. Insurance premium increases of up to 90% or more are possible after a DUI conviction, in addition to license suspension, required ignition interlock device installation, and possible jail time in New Mexico.
Seek the counsel of an experienced New Mexico car accident lawyer without delay if a drunk driver has left you with injuries. If you've been in an accident resulting from another driver's negligence, don't hesitate to contact Will Ferguson & Associates for a free consultation.
Find out if you are entitled to financial compensation by calling our Albuquerque automobile accident attorneys at (505) 243-5566. If you or a family member has a legitimate claim for compensation, we will handle the hard work for you. Don't wait to get in touch with our seasoned and compassionate accident lawyers for the thorough, caring representation you deserve.
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